[Marxism] Argentina: Coup-plotting oligarchs pose as democrats: they will not succeed!

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Jul 28 07:48:27 MDT 2008

Introductory comments by Fred Feldman

With apologies the invaluable LINKS international website provided by the
DSP, I am circulating this item because I think its importance dictates its
being read directly on as many left, progressive or revolutionary websites
as possible.

The introduction that follows by Federico Fuentes is more than adequate. But
I want to take note of a common thread that needs to be thought through and
developed: That is the need to strengthen the state in a national and
popular way against imperialism and the oligarchs. Note that this issue as
it has arisen appears centrally in the items below, and also in the
interview with Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s minister of energy and petroleum,
which can also be found on LINKS.

The issue clearly confronts the Bolivian revolutionary process, which has
been dealt some setbacks and faces what is likely to be a prolonged process
of organizing strong, popular and nationally-organized counterforces against
the oligarchy that can wage an effective, unified struggle against the
oligarchy and its stage-managers in Washington and on Wall Street.

We see elements of the same battle going on in Nicaragua, where the
revolution was savagely pushed back and went into abeyance, but where the
imperialists were unable to unload the FSLN as a national party and the army
which, while quite bourgeoisified, was not under imperialist control.

The task today is not one of constructing an ideal "socialist" or "free
states," or infinitely divided states to reflect local communities but more
of strengthening the aspects of the state that empower localities without
really disempowering the enemy. The struggles need to forge and defend thde
institutions of the state, from the centralized top to bottom, and from the
botton to the centralized top, that can express popular, indigenous and
other forms of resistance to imperialism and the oligarchy. 

>From this standpoint the construction and characteristics of the Cuban
state, including its mass-based but very great capacity for centralized
struggle against the enemy, needs closer study. It should not be treated
simply as an old model that is now being surpassed by the new revolutionary
processes. The new processes may be beginning to point beyond what Cuba has
achieved as fighting machine against imperialism and imperialism's regional
oligarchs. But they also have quite a bit of catching up to do.

Still I don't think the gains that have been made can be easily overthrown,
although there are serious challenges everywhere -- and the battlegrounds
include places where national struggle is underway but the bourgeoisie is
more firmly in control as in Argentina, Nicaragua, Brazil, Chile, etc.
Fred Feldman


Argentina: The coup-plotting oligarchs are trying to paint themselves as the
democrats. They will not succeed!
Statement by Patria y Pueblo (Homeland and People), translated and
introduced by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist

On July 16, with the casting vote of Argentina’s vice-president Julio Cobos
breaking the deadlock in the Senate, the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
government's proposal for a new system of variable tax increases on the
exports of foodstuff such as soya was rejected by parliament. The vote comes
on the back of more than 100 days of social unrest, including roadblocks by
agricultural producers that cut the supply of food to the cities and pro-
and anti-government protests filling the streets of Buenos Aires the day
before the vote. The vote has sent the Fernandez government into crisis just
over six months after assuming the presidency.

Within Argentina’s left, and more broadly in Argentine society, an important
discussion has been occurring as to the significance of this protest
movement and what position to take in regard to it and the Argentine
government. Links has provided English readers with translations of the
views of Argentine Marxist economist Claudio Katz and a group of left
intellectuals, union leaders and social organisations organised under the
banner of ``Otro Camino para superar la crisis’’ (Another path to surpass
the crisis), as well as the controversial position of the Movimiento
Socialista de Trabajadores – Nueva Izquierda (Socialist Movement of
Workers–New Left) of supporting the rural protests against the government.

Below Links provides a translation of another position within the Argentine
Marxist left, that of Patria y Pueblo, which defines itself as ``the
socialists of the National Left’’, and which has consistently given critical
support to the Fernandez government in its battle with the "rural
oligarchy". The declaration was issued only days after the vote in the

For more background information, see the articles published in Green Left

* * *

The bill to ratify the March 11 Ministerial Resolution 125, regarding export
tariffs ("retentions") on soya, was delivered to the Senate, having been
modified with exemplary liberality by the government deputies to meet the
demands of the small and medium soya growers from the pampa húmeda [humid
pampas region] and extrapampeanas [outside the pampa] areas. But the
senators, due to a deadlock and the negative vote of the vice-president,
rejected it.

None of the projects presented by opposition senators better conciliated the
interests of those affected with those of the country as a whole than the
one handed over by the house of deputies. Why then the negative vote? Many
senators gave an explicit response to this question when they explained that
this issue was no longer about tariff policies, and had transformed itself
into a debate over who holds power in Argentina. While it is true that some
of them focused on the forms in which this power is exercised, the sedition
led by the Sociedad Rural Argentina[1] points towards a questioning of power
itself, beyond any eventual good intentions of those who assumed this
formalistic position.

There is no doubt that formalities count, but in order to exercise power
with the "elegance" demanded by these legislators, the rules of the
democratic game demand that the executive branch exercise it without a
fraction of society daring to debate this right. As if this was not enough,
a crowd of irresponsible politicos mounted the wave of these seditious
protests in order to take revenge for the electoral results of October
2007[2]: many of the senators who rejected the resolution belonged to
parties led by these spokespeople of the Apocalypse.

All of the senators knew that the debate was no longer (or never was) over
whether to take more or less rent from the chacareros [owners of small and
medium-sized farms known as chacras, ranging from 50 to 400 hectares], but
rather over the right of a legitimately elected government to decide its
customs policies. It is no coincidence that those who voted against
resolution 125 rushed to declare that "they were not against the
retentions". It's true: they were against the necessary strengthening of the
central executive power in a country dislocated by three long decades of
imperialist, neoliberal, quisling and oligarchic hegemony.

Now they are elbowing each other to get in front of the cameras and
microphones to declare their profound anti-coup plotting faith. Their
message is: "We want the president to continue in her role"... it’s just
that they should dictate which course to take! What we are dealing with is
an attempt to reduce presidential power in order to impose a de facto
pseudo-parliamentarism. In any part of the world – and in Argentina as well
– what the media and the protagonists are already calling a "decisive
victory", "the birth of a new Argentina", "historic day" and other arcane
esoteric verbiage (that obscures the nub of the question) is quite simply an
institutional coup.

The vice-president, Julio Cobos, now tenderly known as el Cleto[3] by the
seditious agrarian sectors, has played a sad role in all this. Defining
himself as a progressista seeking to "contemplate the interests of diverse
sectors", his contemplative progressism led him to vote in a manner which
debilitated the executive power to which he belongs, the only one capable of
challenging concentrated capital over what portion it should take of
national wealth. He makes an effort to remain "contemplative", rather than
improving the conditions in which to act. In this way, from high up within
the government, he has become part of a subversive move aimed at not
recognising popular sovereignty, because no one, except perhaps the
vitivinicola [wine growers’] consciousness of Cobos, convokes the Argentine
people to ask them if they prefer it if legislators usurp for themselves
functions that constitutionally belong to the executive (determining tariffs
on foreign trade) or for things to stay as they have been until now.

Worse than the attitude of Cobos, however, is that of those senators who
obtained their seats on the lists of the Frente para la Victoria (Front for
Victory) or the Concertación Plural (Plural Concertation). They have treated
their voters with scorn, imposing on the electoral majority that voted them
into parliament the will of the ruralistas to hoard for themselves all the
extraordinary rent that the world market is currently generating.

But this will is completely alien to the Argentine people: it is almost like
a natural curse, a monster exuded out by thousands and thousands of hectares
of fertile prairies integrated into an agricultural production system whose
sole objective is to sell meat, cereals and oilseed to this market. For
these senators, the defence of private confiscation of agrarian rent which
belongs to all Argentinians is more important than the incorporation of the
agricultural sector into an industrial Argentina that invests this rent in
factories, food production and biofuel plants, and all related activities
that would allow a modern country to enter into the world market with
products of high added value. It is a sad irony that those who, in the name
of a movement that 60 years ago erupted on the Argentine political scene in
order to lay the foundations of a self-centred industrialisation, today
attempt to perpetuate the asphyxiating rural-centred development that
continues to find its mythical golden age in what the people commonly refer
to as the Década Infame (Infamous Decade)][4].

It is almost not worth mentioning those ultra-"leftists" who, with their
"Maoist", Stalinist and "Trotskyist" leaders, stoke the discontent of the
well-off chacareros to the point of transforming them into shock troops of
the recycled, though old, oligarchy. But the role played by the social
democracy of Hermes Binner [5] and the vociferous and petition-signing
ultraleftism from the urban sectors, forces us to take them into
consideration in characterising this oppositional [alliance] as a new
version of the Unión Democrática[6], behind which, although now very
silently, is always the embassy of the United States. Only in this way can
we explain the coincidence of their positions with those of Mauricio
Macri[7], who put the Museo Sivori (Sivori Museum) – a municipal building,
and therefore property of all the inhabitants of Buenos Aires without
distinction for political colour – at the service of the Mesa de Enlace[8],
at the same time as he shed crocodile tears for the "tremendous damage" done
to the grass in Plaza Congreso, which according to him was caused by the
pro-government tents erected in front of the national congress[9].

On behalf of the party, Patria y Pueblo, the socialists of the National
Left, we affirm that in order to reverse this conjunctural retreat it is
necessary to form a powerful National Front that revolutionises the
Argentine political system, opening the path to the conduction of public
affairs by the most humble, and in doing so guarantee, with the mobilisation
of the people in the streets and the countryside of the homeland, the
irreversible deepening of the path opened by the grand mobilisations of
December 2001. Completely wiping away the political and ideological detritus
that from March 24, 1976, suffocated the country, these rebellions
constituted themselves as the true origins of the electoral legitimacy of
the governments of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Its
patriotic and revolutionary mandate showed the path forward in order to
avoid the swamp that the reactionary and pusillanimous quislings of all
strips, who continue to try to survive in the old and worn-out political
structures of the past, would like to take us into: what served as the
mechanism to throw off the representatives of the old order is also the most
powerful defensive bulwark that this government, which emerges from the
forced escape in helicopter [by then president, Fernando De La Rua].[10]

These four months have allowed us to clearly demarcate the line between the
two groups, part of this old historic battle between two Argentinas. It is
the unwaivering task of those who have been flouted by the senatorial foul
play to take this reality as their starting point.
Compatriots, join our ranks, the struggle has only begun!

Translator’s notes

[1] Argentine Rural Society: a private organisation that unites the large
landowners tied to agricultural activities in Argentina.

[2] In the October 2007 national elections, Fernandez de Kirchner, in an
alliance with forces from the Peronist party, Partido Justicialista, and
remnants of other traditional parties organised in the Frente para la
Victoria [Front for Victory] and Concertación Plural [Plural Concertation],
won the presidency with just under 45% of the vote. Fernandez's
vice-presidential candidate, Julio Cobos, was an ex-member of the Union
Civica Radical [Radical Civic Union].

[3] Julio Cobos’ middle name is Cleto

[4] Infamous Decade refers to the 1930s, when following the September 3,
1930, coup, oligarchic governments publicly stated that Argentina was “the
6th dominion of Britain”. The era was defined by well-known nationalist
writer Arturo Jauretche as “an agreement between the Sociedad Rural and the
British Empire, signed (forcibly) by the Argentine people”. It was out of
the struggle against this colonialism that Peronism emerged.

[5] Hermes Binner is the current governor of the province of Santa Fe, from
the Partido Socialista (Socialist Party).

[6] Democratic Union: anti-Peronist alliance formed in 1945 to oppose the
candidature of Juan Peron. The alliance was backed by the US embassy, and
involved the Unión Cívica Radical, Partido Socialista, Partido Comunista y
Demócrata Progresista. The National Left (of which Patria y Pueblo are part)
argue that the Union Democratica can also be understood as a semi-permanent
historical category in Argentina and other semi-colonial countries, whereby
a broad front, ranging from the ultraleft to the ultraright, unite behind
the objectives of the anti-national ruling class against national-popular

[7] Mauricio Macri: business owner, right-wing neoliberal, and chief of
government of the City of Buenos Aires.

[8] Interchange Roundtable united the four main rural organisations of
Argentina in their battle against the government – Sociedad Rural,
Coninagro, Federación Agraria Argentina and Confederaciones Rurales

[9] When it was announced that a bill to ratify resolution 125 would be
introduced into parliament, both pro- and anti-government supporters erected
tents in Plaza Congreso, in front of Congress, were they held numerous
protests, musical events, distributed information and collected signatures
on petitions.

[10] Referring to the fact that ex-president Fernando De La Rua, in power in
2001, was forced to escape from the presidential palace in a helicopter, as
hundreds of thousands surrounded the building in the December 2001 uprising,
known as el Argentinazo. It also a reference to the argument by some on the
centre left who stated that Fernandez had a similar destiny in front of her.

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